Possession of Marijuana | HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE SECTION 11357 | HS 11357

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Possession of Marijuana | HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE  SECTION 11357

Under the California HS 11357, every person who possesses any concentrated cannabis shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for a period of not more than one year or by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500), or by both such fine and imprisonment. (More than 28.5 grams)


Possession of less than 28.5 grams

Every person who possesses not more than 28.5 grams of marijuana, other than concentrated cannabis, is guilty of an infraction punishable by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars ($100).

Other Aspects of the Statute

The punishment is more sever if the person possessed marijuana on school grounds. A possessor may also lose the driver’s license if he/she is under 21, and was in possession of marijuana while driving a vehicle.

Medical marijuana is shown in a jar at The Joint Cooperative in SeattleProsecution

HS 11357 is a statute that governs simple possession of marijuana. The prosecution must prove that you possessed marijuana, meaning that you had actual or constructive possession of the cannabis. 

Medical Marijuana

In 1996, California passed the Compassionate Use Act, which allows individuals with certain medical conditions to legally cultivate and possess marijuana. Every City and County makes its own regulations in regards to the amounts the individual allowed to possess. It is crucial, to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area about the current state of the laws. In the City of San Diego, the municipal code allows up to 1 lb of marijuana, 24 plants in 64 square feet indoors. In the City of Los Angeles, the voters approved Measure D, which allows three-patient collective grows by patients or designated primary caregivers. The state guidelines of 18 mature plants for a three-patient garden would be allowed, because the measure does not expressly state the plant limits.

Federal Law

The federal law makes possession of marijuana illegal. Under current administration, it is rare for FBI agents to arrest marijuana possessors if they are in compliance of state laws. It is important to remember, that federal and state governments can prosecute independent of each other under dual sovereignty doctrine. This means that federal prosecutor can try the case in federal court, while your conduct is completely legal under state laws. 


The lack of possession or momentary possession can be a complete defense to the charges under HS 11357. Further, if the possessor has lack of knowledge that he possessed marijuana. For example, if the defendant had marijuana in the trunk of the car, he/she has a constructive possession of the cannabis because he/she has immediate control over the trunk of the car.  But if the defendant borrowed the car from his friend that day, he/she might not know the contents in the trunk if he/she never opened it. 

Possession with Intent to Sell

A possessor of marijuana may also be charged with Possession of Marijuana for Sale under HS 11359. This is a different statute, which carries more sever penalties than a simple possession. The jury will be the ultimate fact finder whether the amount constitutes person use or an amount for sale. Please click here to read more about HS 11359, Possession of Marijuana for Sale. 

Call experienced marijuana defense attorneys at Delicino & Vialtsin, LLP for your case evaluation. Anton Vialtsin and Jeremy Delicino are members of NORML, a nonprofit lobbying organization working to legalize marijuana, stop arrests of smokers, provide educational research, and legal information.

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